Get access

Sperm morphology and its influence on swimming speed in Atlantic cod


Author’s address: Víctor M. Tuset, Departamento de Biología Pesquera, Instituto Canario de Ciencias Marinas, P.O. Box. 56, E-35200 Telde (Las Palmas), Canary Islands, Spain.


A protocol for staining fish spermatozoa using Hemacolor-stain was developed for light microscopy and successfully applied to Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua). Sperm head morphology was characterized by size (length, width, area and perimeter) and shape (ellipticity, rugosity, elongation and regularity) (n = 6500 spermatozoa), and tail length (n = 260 spermatozoa) of 12 individual cod. Two spermatozoa heads sperm were clearly identified: round and elongated, being this last one more abundant (86.3%). No evidence was detected in tail length for both head types. Tails were 96.4% length of sperm and no difference in tail length was detected between head types. A positive correlation existed between head and tail length, with variability existing among males. Sperm swimming speeds varied among males with a maximum curvilinear velocity between 151.5 and 201.5 μm s−1. Mean swimming speed declined by 8.2% from 30 to 70 s post-activation. Spermatocrit was negatively correlated with curvilinear velocity at 30 s post-activation. Males with short sperm heads maintained their swimming velocity for longer periods that those with long heads. Fulton’s condition factor was negatively correlated with straightness of path.